Monday, May 10, 2010

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The NJL Health + Beauty blogs have moved. Visit us at our new home at

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tech-ing It Too Far

By Brianne Harrison

Don’t get me wrong—I like technology. I appreciate all the things techy gadgets allow us to do now, like help find a missing dog quickly—but there are limits to my tech love, and in some pet-related areas, I think I’m starting to reach it.

On the good side, there’s this story of a man who used an iPhone app to find his 8-year-old lab Maise, who had escaped from the owner’s yard and disappeared, managing to rip off her collar in the process. Her owner, William Coxe, started by putting up flyers, and then a friend told him about a website called, which helps recover lost pets. Coxe accessed the site using an iPhone app, which, for a fee, also contacted 2,500 of his neighbors and left them a message with the dog’s description and Coxe’s contact info. The call finally reached the person who had Maise, and she was back home in under 2 hours. Now, that’s the power of technology!

But of course, as with anything, it can be taken a little too far. By fall, we should see not one but two gadgets out on the market that allow your dog to send tweets on Twitter. Yes, that’s right, soon your dog can spend its day tweeting away about all the fascinating things it’s doing, like sleeping and scratching behind its ear.

The first product due to be released is an iPhone app called Bowlingual. The app, which has already been released in Japan, claims to translate your dog’s barks using a special algorithm, essentially allowing your dog to “speak”. That translation can then be posted to Twitter so everyone knows your dog really wants its dinner. NOW.

The second product, which will be released by Mattel in the fall, is a tweeting dog collar known as Puppy Tweet. Put the collar on your dog and every time he or she moves, barks, or growls, it sends out a pre-programmed tweet (example: I bark because I miss you—there, now hurry home), allowing you to obsessively follow your dog’s every move throughout the day. Oh, and just in case we weren’t sure yet that dogs have become the new babies, the collar is available in two colors only: pink and blue.

Now, I love my dogs, but I don’t really feel the need to know what they’re doing every moment of the day. I know what they’re doing—sleeping, snoring loudly, and occasionally getting up to get some water to drink. Although at one point, for our own amusement, my fiancĂ© and I dreamed up a rich fantasy life for our dogs that had them building a biplane while we were out of the house, I’m fairly sure that their lives are much duller than that. But hey, maybe my feelings just mean I don’t love them quite enough.

What do you think?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Baby Green

By Jennifer Chaky

It seems the best green products are those that take a good, old-fashioned, pre-plastic, pre-industrial-era practice and make it fresh for the modern day. One shining example of this is Lifefactory Glass bottles for babies and adults. Lifefactory took good ol' glass bottles and covered them in colorful silicone netting to protect against breakage.

Glass bottles are naturally BPA, phthalate, PVC, and polycarbonate free and the silicone sleeve is free of plastics and 100% non-toxic. The adult bottles come in one size, 22 oz. and six different colors and the baby bottles come in two sizes, 4 oz. and 9 oz. and six colors.

So simple, yet so forward-thinking too. Gotta love it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Great Legs!

By Gerard Bochese

When people think of training their legs in the gym they always look for the leg extension machine, the leg curl machine, and the leg press machine. The reason “in the gym” is such an appropriate line in the preceding sentence is because only on these machines in a gym would your lower body ever perform these types of movement patterns.

In real life your legs do not function as they do on these machines. These machines all isolate a body part and were designed with a body-building mentality. They are, therefore, only really good for building bigger muscles (hypertrophy) and can actually set us up for injury if they’re the only equipment we use to train the legs.

Having said that, it’s fine to mix in these machines with a lower body regimen that includes much more functional exercises such as squats, lunges, and step-ups. Remember, the nervous system stores movement patterns and therefore we do not want to store incorrect or non-functional movement patterns that will be useless to us in our everyday activities.

Let’s examine how the legs function in a real-life setting and compare it to the leg extension, leg curl, and leg press machines (we will call them the “gym 3”)

When we use our legs in real life (standing, climbing stairs, skiing, playing basketball, going for a run) our feet are in contact with the ground. On the gym 3 the feet are either dangling in space or on a platform above your head or directly in front of you. These exercises do not allow you to use ground reaction forces that you encounter everyday.

In real life we must deal with gravity at all times. This means that the direction of force and weight on your legs goes from your head down toward the ground. When you are carrying things (groceries, children, heavy lumber, backpacks, etc) the force is that much greater. On the gym 3 the weight is located at the bottom at your feet. Therefore, the normal forces of gravity and the body mechanics and postures needed for a downward force are not being taken into consideration.

When we use our legs in real life our hips and knees almost always flex and extend (bend) together. We don’t isolate bending only the knee or only the hips. Think of squatting down to pick something up, getting into a car, climbing stairs, walking, and running. On the leg extension and leg curl (not the leg press) we isolate the knee joint from the hip joint. Once again, we are not training proper movement patterns that we will need to call on in everyday activities. This could potentially set us up for injury because we train the muscle in a way that they will not be used and thus, even though the muscles look strong, they will be functionally weak.

One of the most important functions of our lower body is locomotion. When we walk, run, or go down stairs, we are forced to decelerate our body weight at some point then accelerate our body weight forward. Basically, the function of the lower body during locomotion is to stop the ankle, knee and hip from bending during foot contact so that we don’t fall to the ground. Once the foot is placed on the ground the next action of the lower body is to extend the ankle, knee, and hip to create forward movement. Machine training does not train this necessary stabilization and deceleration component, nor does it train the acceleration component in a functional way (ground contact) or with correct movement patterns.

It is, therefore, essential to train the lower body with functional movements such as squats and lunges. These exercises will not only create a more efficient and dynamically strong lower body but will certainly create the great looking muscles most people are going for.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wine, Chocolate, and Fundraising

By Brianne Harrison

Delicious wines, hors d’oevres, music, and fundraising for foster kids—sound good? You’ll find it all at Hudson County CASA’s 4th Annual Wine Tasting Fundraiser this Friday. The Wine Library of Springfield will be on hand with a tasting of more than 80 different wines, and there’ll also be a silent auction and raffle, as well as food and music. Cap off the evening with a chocolate tasting—a delicious way to end the night!

The Wine Tasting Fundraiser will be held at the Atrium at Harborside Financial Center in Jersey City. Tickets are $65 in advance and all proceeds support CASA and its mission to advocate on behalf of Hudson County’s 700+ foster children. To learn more or purchase tickets, visit